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Arm has legs: VMware's Bitnami starts packaging apps for Graviton and Ampere

Customers are keen on the lower cloudy database prices available after dropping x86

VMware's open source app packaging outfit Bitnami has started offering images ready for deployment on Arm-powered clouds, citing customer demand for the lower prices offered by the likes of AWS, Azure, and Google compared to their x86-powered instances.

Bitnami packages open source software in forms that make it easy to deploy rapidly in clouds or on-prem. VMware acquired the company and its tech in 2015 to give its cloud – which at the time VMware ran and operated by itself – an equivalent to competing clouds' app marketplaces.

VMware gave up on its own cloud when it realized it had no chance of matching hyperscalers' capital outlays. But it kept Bitnami as part of its efforts to court developers. Bitnami's contribution is to offer deployments to clouds, as the provider of packaging for VMware's marketplace of apps ready to run in Virtzilla-powered environments, and for its ability to power app catalogs that VMware users can use to create the equivalent of an internal app store.

One way Bitnami packages apps is as containers on Docker Hub, where it claims to record two million pulls a month across the 180-odd apps it offers.

And now those containers support Arm as well as x86.

"More than a year and a half ago (mid-2021), Bitnami users started requesting us to provide support for Arm because Apple started with their M1 and also in the Hyperscalers the Arm adoption was planned to be done," states a February 24 blog post. "So, after analyzing the needed efforts and seeing how important this feature was for our end users, we proceed to implement this."

Bitnami's post cites research by open source database support operation Percona that found AWS instances using the cloud giant's own Arm-powered Graviton CPUs often deliver superior price/performance compared to cloudy VMs using Intel or AMD silicon.

Users don't need to specify Arm-compatible instances: Bitnami says "when pulling the container images from Docker Hub, Docker (or any other software) will automatically pull the container image matching the host platform from which the pull command was issued."

With AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud all mentioned in Bitnami's post, that suggests instances using Graviton and Ampere CPUs are therefore able to access the 299 repositories listed at Bitnami's Docker Hub page.

News that Bitnami decided Arm support was needed will be very well received at clouds that have deployed the architecture – and offer further evidence that users are paying attention to the Arm platform.

Arm's owner, Softbank, recently asserted that five percent of hyperscalers' servers use Arm processors – just five years after their debut at AWS. Bitnami's decision has the potential to push that higher still. ®

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